My first task after reading Permanent Makeup is to thank Ms. Ziporyn for an enriching reading experience. It's not the kind of story I usually read, which makes it even more precious for me. The writing is brilliant. I doubt if I ever had the vocabulary Ms. Ziporyn does, but if I did, I've forgotten most of it.
I was impressed with the character-building in Permanent Makeup. I didn't like any of the characters as people, yet I was fascinated by their inner worlds. In the end, I guess that's what the book is all about: playing out the lives of three generations of women and how they struggle but fail to change their lives from one generation to the next. I guess it's the story of what I call Weinberg's Law of Twins: Most of the time, no matter what we do, nothing much happens.
Permanent Makeup is a subtle, literary story, with many intertwined threads. For me, though, the central thread of the book was expressed in this sentence:
"And whatever color her hair or however smooth her skin, she was still going to die."
Perhaps mine is simply the naive male reader's point of view, though I suspect Permanent Makeup won't have many male readers of any kind. Maybe it's because I don't have the female experience, but Permanent Makeup's story-telling of a man's life seemed way off target, even as its stories of women's lives seemed right in the center of the bullseye. But that's perhaps just a man's blindness to his own life story. And to women's.
I can honestly say that if I were not writing a review, I would have been thrown out of this story dozens of times by some extremely long paragraphs and sentences. I had to reread many of them several times before grasping their sense. Eventually, though, they did make sense. And so did Permanent Makeup, though I'm afraid it will make far more sense for its female fans than even for the bravest male reader. I hope lots of women read it—and so will at least a few men who are more evolved than I.